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Construction Accidents

Construction Accidents

CONSTRUCTION ACCIDENTS


If you or someone you know was injured while working at a construction site, there are typically two areas of law that we use to make your claim.

The FIRST is a worker’s compensation claim. This area of law is for employee claims against their own employers. The law requires the employer to offer these basic benefits:

1) Pay all medical treatment- including the ambulance, hospitals, doctors, physical therapy, medicine and x-rays.

2) Lost Income- if you miss more than 7 days of work in a row, the employer must pay you 66% of your average income. This is called TTD or Temporary Total Disability. These payments can extend if you return to restricted or less hours.

3) PPI- Permanent Partial Impairment- When the doctor says you are finished treating, she or he needs to write a report explaining if your injury caused a long term impairment that affects your ability to work.

The SECOND type of legal claim is for NEGLIGENCE against the general construction company. Unfortunately, a lot of times this legal claim is overlooked and the worker misses out on additional recovery.

So don’t let that happen to you. Share your information and we’ll investigate whether we can help you.

For instance, written construction contracts or legal relationships between the construction firms can require the general contractor to protect your safety.

A negligence claim against the general contractor can help you recover more than the limited benefits allowed by a work comp claim. This can be a VERY important part of your financial recovery.

Take a look at more information about these claims on our website OR just call me, Jim Browne at Goodin Abernathy.

For something really easy, just click the “Do I have a case” button and we’ll look at the specifics of your case.

Goodin Abernathy wants to help – and we’ll put our experience to work for you.

Video Surveillance & Indiana Worker’s Compensation Cases

Video Surveillance & Indiana Worker’s Compensation Cases

Video Surveillance & Indiana Worker’s Compensation Cases

What does the law say about video surveillance in Indiana Worker’s Compensation cases? Glad you asked – because the Goodin Abernathy LLP law firm handles those claims.

This video of a man, who seemingly fakes a fall and injury, is making the internet rounds. Click here to watch.

The video shows a man create his own water hazard and intentionally fall in it. When it comes to liability, Indiana’s worker’s compensation law favors workers – but this claim would probably “fall flat” in court.

So let’s look at two main points raised by the video:

1) How is liability handled in an Indiana Worker’s Compensation (“work comp”) claim?
2) Can the employer use video evidence?

A good part about Indiana’s work comp law is that an employer must accept a claim for accident and injury if an employee is hurt on the job. The employer cannot avoid responsibility and argue the employee is at fault for doing something wrong to cause the accident. This is a big difference from Indiana’s negligence law, where private individuals or businesses are suing each other. In a negligence case, a defendant can argue the plaintiff was more liable or “at fault” for causing the accident. If they prove it, the plaintiff can lose their whole case.

But not in an Indiana Worker’s Compensation case. As long as the accident occurred at work or in the scope of the employment, the employer must cover the claim.

There are a few exceptions. If the worker: intentionally caused the injury (watch that video again); was injured doing something criminal; or was under the influence of alcohol, drugs or intoxicants – then an employer can try to deny the claim.

On numerous occasions, we have represented injured clients against their employer’s intoxication defense. Usually these situations involve chemical test results showing traces of medicine, drugs or alcohol in the employee’s system. The employer must show, at the time of the accident, the intoxicants impaired the worker’s physical and mental abilities. That’s when you turn to the actual levels of intoxicants in the blood stream.

What if the worker consumed the substance days before the incident. While we do not condone it, what if the worker smoked marijuana the weekend before their accident? Calculations can be made to determine whether the substance actually affected the employee when the accident occurred. In some very serious injuries, that we won, we’ve proven our clients were not under the influence of drugs – even though traces showed up in their system.

Finally, YES, videos can be used in court. One reason could be for liability issues like the video that started this blog. Another reason could be to question our client’s credibility in a case where they claim permanent physical disability prevents them from working. An employer or its insurance company may have surveillance done, where a private investigator secretly follows the worker around, taking video of regular activities like driving, carrying groceries, fishing or cutting their lawn.

The Goodin Abernathy attorneys are very familiar with handling this evidence and give clients advice on how to conduct themselves, what to watch for and how to counter punch the private investigator’s assertions.

Indiana’s work comp law is well intentioned. It is designed with the thought an injured worker can represent herself in court without an attorney. But remember this: employers use sophisticated, trained insurance companies to defend the claims. Those insurance companies make money collecting premiums – not paying money towards injury claims. That’s why you should contact Goodin Abernathy LLP for advice on how to handle your Indiana Worker’s Compensation claim.

Safety Protection Against Falls at Work

Knowing how to properly use and maintain ladders while working is life-saving knowledge to have for safety protection against falls at work – and at home. Daily, within the United States, at least two thousand citizens are critically hurt during the use of a ladder. If you add in the occasional slip and fall occurrence, that number goes up considerably. For a hundred of them, long-term disability or possibly even permanent disability can be the end result due to their injuries.

Fall Protection and Training

Fall protection and training will consistently play key roles in keeping your employees safe. Worker’s compensation insurance premiums increase as more employees file claims. Falls happen every single day and at least one ladder accident causes a person’s death. At that point, you must ask yourself, “What is the cost to someone when told they are permanently disabled, can never work again or worse.” Loss of income alone can be devastating to a family. Effective January 2017, OSHA established updated employer requirements connected to the performance, design, and utilization of fall protection structures. The update raises consistency between construction standards and the general industry.

The majority of industrial companies’ biggest expenses due to employee injuries deal with ladder-related falls. The financial weight can be astounding. The dreadful human cost is even more shocking. With effort, fall protection and prevention, when it comes to a slip and fall, ladders or aerial access equipment, will most likely be a huge focus the future. Think of this scenario. If you were on the cliff of a mountain, would you rather build a fence around the top of that cliff for safety? On the other hand, would you prefer to station an ambulance at the base of the mountain just in case?

All safety equipment is designed with its potential dangers in mind. During the design process the attempt to eliminate all of those red flags. The designers outline everything in their hierarchy of controls. In layman’s terms, they engineer out the danger. If you do not see a path to engineer the danger out, safeguard against the danger. If guarding against it is not possible, then you must properly warn, supply personal protection equipment and adequately train people on its use and dangers.

Technology of Ladders

Many things over the years have improved thanks to technology. The time has long past to improve the safety of ladders. The primary design of conventional ladders has been untouched for centuries. Therefore, it is no coincidence that the rate of ladder injuries has grown in the past decade. Sadly, a team somewhere reviewed the design and decided that the original blueprint of the ladder could not be enhanced. This is why you will see many warning labels on ladders. These visible warnings force safety professionals to schedule a myriad of training meetings. These meetings teach employees to not do things on a ladder that everyone knows they are going to do anyway.

Stepladders actually present their set of special problems. Falls still happen due to over-reaching. They also have compliance rules pertaining to sustaining three points of contact while in use. You should constantly maintain three points of contact when you ascend and descend on a ladder. For example, there should be a combination of two feet and one hand or two hands and one foot at all times. Now, what should you do once you are no longer in climb mode and begin working? Technically, you are still supposed to have three contact points. Most personnel feel it is difficult to work with just one hand. Tying off above certain height levels is also something recommended. Lastly, what do you do when it comes to working on surfaces that are uneven or over stairs? The debate continues.

Aerial safety cages are another means of reaching heights. They are not actually considered ladders and are not scaffolds or power lifts either. Aerial safety cages permit the operator to perform their work in a completely enclosed space. The unit is a height-adjustable platform that is in compliance with all tie off and guardrail rules. This newer type of access equipment is more adaptable than traditional ladders or powered lifts. Aerial safety cages are capable of adjusting for working on stairs or uneven surfaces. They cages are approved for use surrounding live electrical circuits because they are assembled with non-conductive fiberglass rails.

Protection and prevention against a fall on the job begins with understanding how individuals use ladders. Just as important, there needs to be continued concentration on how people injure themselves using ladders. With continued research in this area, there can be real opportunities to designing new and safer products for climbing. If you are hurt or need worker’s compensation answers, Goodin Abernathy LLP can assist you. Call us for a free consultation if you have been injured on the job.

Ladder Safety & Workers Comp

Ladder Safety & Workers Comp

Every year, hundreds of workers wind up hospitalized for a ladder accident due to gross violations of safety protocol; however, there are plenty of isolated accidents that can happen for any number of preventable reasons. Whatever the reason may be for a ladder safety accident, there are a number of things that you should always keep in mind to tell whether or not you might be entitled to work injury compensation.

Ladder Safety

Proper ladder safety begins with having the right ladder. The majority of ladder accidents can be avoided just by making sure that the right kind of ladder has been chosen for the job. However, in many cases, the quality of the ladder being overlooked tends to be one of the major reasons why somebody ends up getting hurt.

Responsible business owners will always make sure that ladders in all areas are consistently examined and inspected to confirm that they are dependable for the workers. In the event that a ladder becomes compromised, fails or breaks while a worker is standing on it due to a failure to properly maintain it, a critical aspect of the case would be just how diligent the employer or management’s efforts were to make sure that said ladder was properly examined and cleared for safe use.

Self-Supporting Ladder Misuse

It isn’t just about the objective quality and safety of the ladder but also its default design issues. Certain ladders are built in a self-supporting design, making them safe to use without necessarily having to propping them up against something larger and supportive. When it comes to ladders that are not self-supporting, however, things can get a little bit complicated. A non-self-supporting ladder can be just as dangerous as an improperly maintained ladder. If it is used at an angle where the distance from its top support to the bottom foot of the ladder is more than a quarter of its working length, it’s crucial to maintain it.

Surface Stability

Even if the ladder is in passable condition and properly used, a concern also involves the stability of the surface it stands on. In order to make sure that a ladder is truly safe to operate, it needs to be confirmed that the surface is properly level, free of debris and overall stable.

There can’t be any unintentional slipping or movement that happens when pressure is put on the ladder of any kind. Even if it doesn’t seem to be that significant at first, a moment of unexpected compromise when there is an actual risk of an injury can prove to be disastrous very quickly.

Employer Supervision Oversights

Just as it is important for an employer to make sure that the state of the ladder is optimized for safety, it is also important for them to make sure that the employees have been properly trained. It is the responsibility of the employer to make sure effective training programs are provided and put in place, so that each employee knows exactly how to use the ladders properly. In addition to confirming that every employee is familiar with the proper safety protocol, consistent regular safety meetings or “tool box talks” are also standard in the construction and painting industry.

In-patient Hospitalization and Multiple Injuries

If you require inpatient hospitalization because of a ladder accident, the employer must file a record of your in-patient hospitalization with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) within 24 hours. If the employer fails to file a record of the inpatient hospitalization, they can very easily be held liable for negligence to follow through with due process. OSHA is also concerned with multiple injuries from single construction accidents.

Negligence Claims

In addition to making an Indiana Worker’s Compensation claim, your accident might also involve a negligence claim against a third party. This means if an accident was caused by a worker from another company or an independent party (someone besides your employer or co-workers), then you might have a legal claim beyond the recoverable benefits from the worker’s compensation law. Our firm handles both negligence and Indiana Worker’s Compensation claims, and we know what to ask about and look for with these cases. When we can prosecute injury claims to collect damages beyond those offered through the Indiana Worker’s Compensation law, we go after them and fight for our clients.

Summary

With Indiana workers compensation claims, you can get the justice you need for using the state’s laws for work accidents. The law requires employers to offer benefits covering medical expenses, lost income from time off work (TTD) and permanent partial impairment (PPI) compensation. In order to make sure that your case is as strong as possible, you will want to make sure that you have all of the necessary details in order. Make sure to accurately report the time of the accident, all of the details about the environment, any medical details provided by your primary health care providers and a complete chronological report of the events leading up to and following the accident.

The more details that you can provide about your Indiana workers compensation claim case, the better of a chance you will have to get the kind of work injury compensation that you deserve. If you would like to know more about how you might be able to present a strong worker’s injury case, feel free to get in contact with us for a free consultation.

Work Injury Falling from Scaffolding

Work Injury Falling from Scaffolding

Construction workers place their lives at risk every day on the job. Accidents and falls can happen, even with the best safety equipment and highest safety standards in place. Sometimes, construction projects aren’t as safe and secure as people would like them to be, which increases the risk of accidents.

Workers on Scaffolding - Work InjuriesThe construction industry ranks high in job-related accidents and fatalities. Most of these fatalities and work injures are caused by falls from scaffolding and other such areas of the project site. Scaffolding must be secure and should be able to bear the weight and movements of the construction worker easily. If the construction worker falls and is injured, it’s important to carry out a thorough investigation to determine the true cause of the accident and understand liability. An experienced work injury attorney can help.

What are the Scaffolding Safety Standards?

Scaffolding is an important aspect of all construction sites and some tasks and installations can’t be carried out without it. While the authorities recognize this and know there’s an inherent risk involved in all construction tasks, they have determined that this risk can be minimized by improving the safety standards of the scaffolding.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, state organizations, and even private businesses post separate safety standards that will help ensure construction workers as secure as they can be. Here’s a brief introduction to the standards construction companies must follow:

• Scaffolding should be able to hold and support four times the weight anticipated as necessary. For example, if the anticipated weight of the of the construction worker and his equipment is 200 pounds, the scaffolding should be able to support 800 pounds.

• A scaffold should be securely anchored and shouldn’t be supported by loose fixtures like barrels or bricks.

• The plank should overlap by at least 12 inches to provide adequate anchor to the scaffolding.

• To provide enough balance, the planks should extend their supports by at least 6 to 18 inches. This will ensure the planks have enough weight at the edge and dont tip over.

• The scaffolding should have overhead protection if there’s work being done overhead.

• Construction supervisors should ensure there are no tools, debris, equipment, or other such materials present on the scaffold. Obstructions can lead to accidents, especially if the construction work is distracted by their work and can’t look down at their feet.

• The construction site should not have shore scaffolds and lean-to scaffolds as they’re unsafe and prohibited.

If the construction company doesn’t provide secure and properly anchored scaffolding, they’re not following the established standards and can be held liable if there’s an accident.

What Should You Do You If You Fall From the Scaffolding?

Your first priority should be to get medical attention and focus on your health. Injuries caused by falls from scaffolding are often serious and should be addressed immediately. Some injuries might grow worse if you delay in seeking medical attention.

After you’ve received the treatment, your next step is to call a worker’s compensation attorney who will help you with your case. Your family can also call an attorney on your behalf. Here’s what you should do immediately after you’re well enough you speak with a lawyer:

• Don’t Speak with Company Attorneys – The construction company will respond quickly in the case of accidents and attempt to minimize the compensation amount as much as they can. It’s important that you don’t speak with them without an attorney present or without discussing your case with the attorney. You’re perfectly within your rights to deny a meeting with your employers until you’ve spoken with your attorney.

• Appoint Some to Represent Your Interests – Don’t hire attorneys recommended by your employers and don’t take legal advice from company lawyers. Do your research and find someone who will work with you and for your interests. Make sure you hire an attorney as quickly as you can because such cases are subject to the Statute of Limitations and must be filed within 2 years of the incident.

• Discuss the Accident with Your Attorney – After you’ve hired someone reliable to help you, explain the entire situation to them as factually and honestly as you can. In such situations, it can be difficult to recall the details but it’s important to help your attorney as much as you can.

• Give the Attorney Access to Your Medical Reports – The attorney needs to understand the extent of your injuries in order to plan the compensation amount. You should allow them to have a copy of your injuries and access to any observations your doctor may have made during the treatment.

The attorney will collect all evidence, prepare the paperwork, and be present in all interviews and negotiations with the construction company and their legal team. This will ensure you’re not pressurized into settling for less than what you deserve.

The Lawsuits Regarding Falls from Scaffold

There are three things an attorney must establish in order for the lawsuit to be successful in courts and they are:

• It’s the defendant’s responsibility to provide safety and security to you and make sure the scaffolding is safe to use.

• The defendant didn’t perform their duty and provide a secure enough scaffold and the construction site wasn’t up to normal industry standards.

• Their failure to perform this duty led to your injury and accident.

Before the attorney files a lawsuit, they’ll determine who is liable by determining who is responsible for supplying scaffolding material, installing it, and maintaining it. Most of these cases are settled outside court and in the presence of attorneys on both sides. However, if you refuse to settle outside court if you believe the compensation they offer isn’t enough and won’t cover all of your expenses.

What’s Included in the Compensation?

A compensation amount will include medical expenses, loss of wages because you missed work, pain and distress caused by the injury, loss of normal life because of resultant disabilities or permanent injuries, loss of income because you’re no longer able-bodied enough to work in your industry.

Your attorney will take your circumstances into consideration and determine the compensation amount carefully.

Work Injury Benefits in Indiana

According to recent statistics, 4 in every 100 people suffer from workplace accidents or fatalities in Indiana. Most of these accidents and fatalities are preventable and could’ve been avoided if the employers or business owners were careful with jobsite safety and security. Businesses are required by law to comply with OSHA standards on their jobsites but it’s difficult to keep track of all sites, so some slip through the radar. The authorities recognize this gap and insist that all businesses have work comp insurance.

The Worker’s Compensation Act

If you’re injured on the job or if your loved one has died as a result of a workplace accident, you are entitled to compensation and work injury benefits from the company. The right is covered by the Worker’s Compensation Act, which mandates that all employers have insurance to cover their liability in such cases. Some employers can get special permission to pay claims from their own funds, but most will use insurance. Such cases are presented to the Worker’s Compensation Board. They decide on the compensation amount and whether there’s liability on the employer’s apart. Employers can face a lot of consequences and penalties if they don’t carry work comp insurance or provide work injury benefits to their employees. These consequences include:

  • An order to cease doing business. The employer will have to arrange for comprehensive work comp insurance if they want to work in Indiana once again.
  • The court will ask the employer to provide proof of financial ability to ensure they can pay any claims, deposit a security, or take an indemnity, or bond to secure compensation for all injuries or fatalities caused during the period without insurance coverage
  • The employer is also considered to have committed a Class A infraction. They can be persecuted by the injured party if they can’t provide adequate compensation when needed.

As you can see, there are some protections in place to protect the interests of the employees and workers.

The Work Injury Benefits

The act covers personal injury or death claims that arise out of and during the course of employment. The compensation provides a limited number of benefits to the injured party and these include:

  • Medical treatment
  • Compensation for lost wages
  • Compensation for any disabilities due complete loss or loss in function of a part of your body

These are the only compensations the act provides for – temporary injuries and minor disabilities. However, permanent injuries and total disabilities are a different matter because they can impact your ability to earn more income in the future. If your ability to earn a living and lead a productive life is compromised, the compensation amount and ruling will reflect that.

The employer is liable if the accident occurs as a consequence of the job and is due to errors or negligence by the employer to provide safety gear and systems. Here’s a list of injuries that might be covered by the work injury benefits law:

  • Intentional Injuries – These injuries, when caused directly by the employer and owner of business, aren’t covered by work comp. You can file a civil suit to gain compensation. However, deliberate harm caused by managers, foremen, or supervisors are covered by worker’s compensation.
  • Repetitive Trauma – Any trauma or bodily harm caused as the consequence of doing the job is compensable. For example, you can get compensation if you develop carpel tunnel syndrome as a consequence of the job.
  • Parking Lot – Injuries and accidents caused by poorly maintained parking lots are also covered by workers compensation.
  • Heart Attack – This is covered if the injured party can prove that their job or workspace environment triggered the heart attack.
  • Injuries Caused in Ingress and Egress Routes – If you get injured when you enter or exit the employer’s property, you are eligible for compensation because you were on your way to work when the accident happened.
  • Heat and Sun Related Injuries – This is common in outdoor jobs like construction, door-to-door sales, etc. If you have heat stroke, sunstroke, or heat prostration and can provide it could’ve been avoidable, you will earn compensation.
  • Psychological Trauma – Psychological trauma caused by the job or at the workplace is also considered compensable. This can be due to stress, poor workplace environment, bullying and threatening at the workplace, etc.

What Steps Should You Take When You Experience Workplace Injuries?

Your actions immediately after the injury can compromise your case if you’re not careful. Here’s what you need to do immediately after you’re injured:

  • Get medical assistance without delay. This should be your first step because delays can worsen the injuries.
  • Contact your employer and inform them of the injury as soon as you can. The more you delay, the more you compromise your case.
  • File an injury or accident report when you’re able.
  • Call a work injury benefits lawyer immediately.
  • Don’t sign any legal document your employer provides without consulting with your lawyer.

Why Do You Need a Lawyer?

A lawyer will protect your interests and make sure you’re not pressured into compromising on the compensation. Here’s what a lawyer will do to help you:

  • They’ll consider all the information you provide carefully and offer unbiased advice on compensation, liability, and your chances of winning a case against the employer if it goes to court.
  • They’ll collect evidence, witness statements, and other such information to make sure the case is rock solid.
  • Lawyers will also help if you there’s a fatality involved. They’ll ensure dependents of the victim are adequately compensated.
  • Lawyers will shield you from the insurance company’s or your employer’s legal team. They can use pressure tactics in order to reduce the compensation amount.

Most work injury-related cases are settled outside court after thorough negotiations between both parties. They agree to a specific amount that covers expenses and compensates for the suffering caused by the incident. Some cases go to court because the parties can’t settle for a reasonable amount.

If you have questions, contact our office for a free consultation.